Law Reform

Sentencing Council announces sexual offences guideline consultation

PUBLISHED December 6, 2012

The Sentencing Council has launched a consultation on proposals for how guidance for courts on sexual offences should be brought up to date. It aims to give more focus to the impact on victims and reflect advances in technology, while making sure offenders are dealt with effectively.
Its draft sentencing guideline, which covers a large number of offences including rape, child sex offences, indecent images of children, trafficking and voyeurism, proposes a variety of changes to how offending is dealt with by the courts.
Some of the key changes in the proposed approach to sentencing are:
  • a broader approach to assessing what victims have been through so that psychological and longer term effects on the victim are reflected, as well as physical harm;
  • consideration of the full context of an offender?s behaviour and motivation in committing any offence, including aspects such as grooming and abuse of trust; and
  • acknowledgement of the increased use of technology in offences involving indecent images of children and the facilitation of sexual exploitation and grooming of children.
The guideline reinforces the importance of firm and proper punishment and the prevention of reoffending through significant custodial sentences or treatment programmes that will address the offender?s behaviour.
The 14-week public consultation discusses how the courts should approach sentencing decisions, details the rationale behind the Council?s thinking and explores the many issues involved in the sentencing process.
The consultation runs from 6 December 2012 to 14 March 2013 and is open to both criminal justice professionals and members of the public.
It is split into sections so that respondents can focus on the subject area/s or offences that most interest them.
People can respond online by visiting: 
or may request a hard copy from